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Newest resident has eight legs and orange skin

A ground-hunting or swift spider (Corinnidae) called Reinhard’s Leichhardt  spider or Leichhardteus Reinhardi has been discovered on Fraser Island.
A ground-hunting or swift spider (Corinnidae) called Reinhard’s Leichhardt spider or Leichhardteus Reinhardi has been discovered on Fraser Island.

THERE'S a new hunter among us, a swift mover with eight legs and orange skin on Fraser Island - goes by the name Leichhardteus Reinhardi.

The new species, less officially named Reinhard's Leichhardt Spider, was one of 221 new species found across Australia in 2013, a list that includes fish, geckos, snails, crustaceans, dung beetles, parasites and sea spiders, just to name a few.

Barbara Baehr, a Queensland Museum researcher of terrestrial environments (Arachnida), spent time studying the new Fraser Coast find.

She's a bit of a pro at naming new things: in her career she's described more than 600 species of spiders and says the only downside to her success is coming up with new names.

"It is sometimes quite difficult to find the right name for a species, firstly I look to see if there are any obvious characters for that particular species, if there isn't anything obvious, I tend to use the locality of where the species was found," she said.

"But I personally prefer to name a species after people who collected the species or support taxonomic science."

Our Fraser Island spider was chosen in honour of Reinhard Flessner, University of Queensland's manager of collaboration and research in Europe, she said, for his immense engagement for Leichhardt and the Australian environment.

The spider is not poisonous to humans but is to its prey - mostly ants. 

The 221 new finds were a record for the one year, with museum staff saying the average would be 50-100 new species.

Topics:  fraser island, spider




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